Get Real 5

My wife and I had a conversation the other evening with someone about a pastor we know.  The prevailing opinion was that this pastor was a bit too full of himself, too arrogant to be bothered speaking with anyone but the select few in his elite tier of society.  One might believe that he is far too busy with holy matters to be distracted by polite social conventions.

In Mark we have Jesus being taken to the home of two of his disciples.  Where did Jesus go?  Who was with him?  What was wrong?  What did Jesus do?

We have a simple story of Jesus performing healing, something we are very familiar with.  We can imagine that since Jesus was the Son of God it required little effort to conduct such healing – and likely this is true.

But we have more than a simple healing going on here.  True, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever and Jesus healed her of the illness – healing her so thoroughly, in fact, that she was able to get up and become a servant.  But we also have Jesus taking the time to be a friend, to be kind, to be compassionate.

Was Jesus busy and pre-occupied with holy matters?  We can certainly believe that to be true.  In Mark 1:38 Jesus tells his disciples that he wants to go to other villages and preach.  That was the reason for his being there.

But before he would go out and start spreading the message of salvation, before he would begin healing others and driving out demons Jesus took the time to be with a few of his disciples.

More than that, he took the time to have some compassion on an older woman who was ill.  Jesus was not too busy or too pre-occupied with pressing matters to neglect the people around him.

We too must be certain that we put our lives and our faith in the correct place when dealing with other people.  We may have to set aside our own worries and concerns to be polite and welcoming to others.  We may have to set aside our desire to save souls so that we can be a friend first.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  How can you recognize everyone you meet as a person before you worry about yourself?

Get Real 4

We all wear social masks from time to time.  We pretend to be someone we are not.  We try to fool others into thinking we are someone whom we are not.  And at first reading of this passage we could easily see Paul being one of those “posers,” one of those people who act a certain way to try to fit in.

This is especially true if we look at some of the earlier verses (1 Corinthians 9:20-21).  Paul says he became like a Jew to win the Jews.  To win over those who were strict adherents to Hebrew law he became like one who obeyed the law.  And likewise, to win those who ignored the law he became like them.

What other behavior does Paul speak of?  Why did he do all this?

While the words Paul uses to talk about how he went about winning souls for Christ may appear to be the complete opposite of being real and genuine with people, I wonder if perhaps the word choice Paul has is misleading.  Knowing what we do of Paul it is hard to imagine that he would compromise his principles, that he would become lawless and weak, that he would pretend to be a certain person.

Instead I wonder if what he meant was that he was willing to accept these other types of people so that he might be able to share the Gospel with them.  Is it possible that Paul did not actually become a lawless person or become a weak person, but rather he accepted these people where they were?

Perhaps Paul “became” like all of these different groups of people by simply existing within their circle of community.  And perhaps he “became” like these people by accepting who they were and not judging them.

If we will be honest and open for our faith we must determine how it is we will interact with others.  If we will be genuine, loving Christians we cannot sit in judgment of others.  We cannot feel that we are above the other people.  Rather, we must be honest with them, but also be accepting of them where they exist in their own faith and life.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  How can you honestly accept others?

Get Real 3

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  We have heard that old expression time and time again throughout our lives.  Don’t allow the outward appearance of someone or something influence how we feel.

But that is exactly what we often do in our churches.  We judge other people by their appearance.  If someone comes into our church or we meet someone in our life we make judgments based on how they look.  We decide what kind of person they may be based on how they are dressed or how they wear their hair or if they have tattoos.

When we do this we are missing out on an opportunity to become a friend to another person.  We are passing up a chance to get to know another person and to let that person get to know us.  If we will be open and honest with the people we meet, if we can engage them in conversation and be ourselves with them, we will open the door for them to be honest with us.

When we do that we will likely find that in spite of how another person may look they probably have similar dreams and fears to our own.  We will likely discover that they are people struggling with life the same way we do.

Jesus ate with people who were rejected by the majority of society.  He socialized with people that others did not like.  He spent time with people that others wanted to avoid.  When questioned about this what did Jesus say?

Like Jesus we are also here for the sinner.  We are here for the people who are sick in their souls.  We are here for those who are sick with loneliness, poverty, anger, grief and depression.  We are here for those who are sick with sin – who live a life far from God.

Like Jesus we are encouraged to be a friend to people who need a friend.  We are encouraged to be honest about ourselves, open with our feelings, and transparent with our beliefs.  In that way we can make friends with those who are not normally part of our life, and we can help them make friends with the greatest healer of them all – Jesus.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  Who do you know who is spiritually “sick” and needs your friendship?

Get Real 2

Whenever we leave for a trip, whether for a week or for an overnight stay, we must check to see that we have all we need.  Do we have money?  Do we have our phone chargers?  Do we have a change of clothes, and on and on?  We want to be ready for whatever we face.

In Luke we have this passage of Jesus sending out the disciples to do ministry.  What did Jesus give them?  What were they to do?  What were they NOT to take?

It seems that Jesus’ instructions were just the opposite of what you might expect.  These men who were going out into the unknown to do God’s work were told not to take anything with them.  They did not need money or food.  They did not need extra clothing or even a walking stick.

They went into ministry with nothing.  Or so it would seem.

In fact they went out into ministry with a great amount.  They had the authority and power that Jesus had given them.  They had the power of Christ to heal and preach.

They also had the incredible asset of themselves.  They were taking their own abilities, their own thoughts and intellect, their own personalities into ministry.  And this would be enough for them.  They would have to be real and honest with the people they met and they would need to share themselves as part of their preaching.

Like these twelve disciples we also take with us ourselves.  We take our own hopes and dreams, our own likes and dislikes.  And we take our own experiences and our own faith with us.

When we go out into the world we are taking ourselves and our faith as the wonderful tools we need to do God’s work.  And like the disciples we are also bringing the authority and ability of our Savior.  When we do ministry we must be certain that we are real – honest, open, transparent – to the people we will meet.  That is our greatest asset.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What faith story can you share in your ministry?

Get Real 1

I was behind a truck one day when I noticed a sticker on the back which read, “Our greatest resource is our people.”  The company was declaring that the most important aspect of their corporation was not the trucks, not the building, not the goods they shipped.  The most important part of their business was their employees.  The people working for them were the best parts of that company.

As Christians and as the body of Christ, as the church, we have a great deal to offer people.  We can offer them the love and mercy of God.  We can offer them a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that relationship can bring them comfort and peace.

But the greatest thing we can offer people who do not know who God is ourselves.  We can be real to them.  That is, we can be honest about ourselves – our wants and desires, our faults and flaws, our own struggles and hopes in faith.  By seeing that we are just like them, that we face the same challenges and fears that they do, they will also see that we are happier because we know who Christ is.

We all may have an image in our minds of how Jesus called his first disciples, but John gives us a different perspective on this calling.  According to verse 37, what did the followers of John the Baptist do?  What invitation did Jesus give?  What happens in verse 39?

According to the Gospel of John, there were a few men who were already growing in their faith.  They had become disciples of John the Baptist, but when they saw Jesus they knew they had to follow an even greater teacher.

As they joined Jesus, the Lord did not immediately begin teaching them the wisdom of God’s kingdom.  Instead he began this new relationship by spending time with these men.  Verse 39 says that these new followers “spent that day with him.”

We have no other information about what went on, but we can assume that Jesus simply spent the day in conversation with the disciples, sharing himself with them, developing that bond of friendship.

Like Jesus we must also learn to greet those new to faith with ourselves.  We don’t need to start in on what is wrong with their lives and what must change.  We begin by being honest with them, revealing ourselves to them through conversation and by getting to know them.

Like the trucking company, the church’s greatest resource is our people.  If we will be honest, friendly, and open with the new believer we will be the people who help others find Jesus.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  Who needs to get to know you better?